Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Proof is in the eye of the beholder

Published: Monday, March 21 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

Non-LDS philosophers have argued that in order for us to have spiritual freedom — freedom to make choices — God cannot allow us to know — by secular proof alone — that he exists. Non-LDS philosophy instructor Joseph Lynch, for instance, explains that this gap “is necessary so that human beings can freely make more moral choices and freely choose God — it can’t be too obvious that God exists, but his existence shouldn’t be altogether implausible either” (quoted in "Shaken Faith Syndrome," 40). If humans had incontrovertible secular evidence for the existence of God, they would be unable to freely choose whether or not to accept God.

From modern revelation, we know that without faith and testing we would be following a plan not unlike the one proposed by Satan — a plan that compels us all to return to the Father. “I am convinced,” notes Givens, “that there must be grounds for doubt as well as belief in order to render the choice more truly a choice. ...

“The option to believe must appear on our personal horizon like the fruit of paradise, perched precariously between sets of demands held in dynamic tension. One is, it would seem, always provided with sufficient materials out of which to fashion a life of credible conviction or dismissive denial. We are acted upon, in other words, by appeals to our personal values, our yearnings, our fears, our appetites and our egos. What we choose to embrace, to be responsive to, is the purest reflection of who we are and what we love. That is why faith, the choice to believe, is, in the final analysis, an action that is positively laden with moral significance.”

Michael R. Ash is on the management team for FAIR (the Foundation for Apologetic Information and Research FAIRLDS.org) and is the author of "Shaken Faith Syndrome: Strengthening One's Testimony In the Face of Criticism and Doubt" (ShakenFaithSyndrome.com) and "Of Faith and Reason: 80 Evidences Supporting the Prophet Joseph Smith" (OfFaithandReason.com). Michael's column, "Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith," appears Mondays on MormonTimes.com.

E-mail: mike@shakenfaithsyndrome.com

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